Saturday, March 21, 1998 at 06:51:22

My father was a very well spoken man; highly educated and extremely intelligent, he made it a point to eliminate filled pauses from his day-to-day speech (and his prepared speeches).

I picked up the habit.  I believe that I did so consciously, after one day when I pointed out something about the way he spoke.  I told him that he paused too much; that he would spend too much time between words thinking of the right word to use next.   "I am .... concerned about his plans," for example.  He responded that I use too many filled pauses, and that a pause sounds much better to a listener than an "umm"!  I was very surprised; I had never considered analysing my own speech, and I was mortified that I spoke poorly in my dad's eyes.

Now I am 31, my dad has passed away years ago, and I am studying to be a teacher.  I still fill pauses, not nearly as frequently as I used to, but slightly more than my dad did when he was an adult.  Also, with years of experience using my voice as a telemarketer, a radio DJ, a headhunter, and a substitute teacher, I have the ability to speak very quickly or very slowly.  I am studying to better my oral communication skills, and would like to learn to give speeches.  When I concentrate, I can speak clearly and quickly with almost no pauses (filled or unfilled)!

When I saw this page (in the "What's Cool" section), I was reminded of many memories of my father.  Thanks for letting me express my feelings!

- SS

Your father sounds like an impressive man.  And I really respect your efforts to improve your speech skills.  I confess that public speaking has always been one of my weaknesses.  This was one of my motivations for researching this topic.  I hope that little by little, I can learn to control my hesitation strategies (I think your father's implication is very accurate:  no matter what, we must hesitate when we speak, the problem is choosing the right way to hesitate--silent or filled or other...).  Good luck with your efforts to become a highly literate teacher!

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Last Revised: 99/08/26

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